A Word From Human Resources
Planning Ahead for the New Academic Year
As the 2013-14 academic year is underway, new faculty, staff, and students will join our community, and I would like to welcome them to the Rensselaer family.
Over the summer, there was a lot of activity taking place on campus to prepare for the fall semester. Various divisions and departments were involved in planning Student Orientation and welcoming activities for our new freshman class. In addition, faculty have been finalizing plans for their courses, and staff have been working to prepare the campus for new and returning students.
Rensselaer comprises individuals who bring diverse intellectual, geographical, gender, and ethnic perspectives to the work and campus communities. To support continued growth in this area, the Division of Human Resources has provided our new faculty, staff, and students with an overview of the code of behavior expected as members of our community. While we take great care to demonstrate fair employment practices toward all employees, the Institute in turn expects all members of the campus to adhere to basic, established standards of conduct and performance that will enable all members of the community to work together in achieving the objectives of the Institute.
Beyond Rensselaer, on the national front, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will expand the manner in which health care services are provided by employers to employees, their spouses, and employees’ dependents. The Affordable Care Act, among other things, will require most individuals to maintain health care coverage, modify how health insurance issuers can offer insured group health plans to employers, and impose penalties on certain employers that don’t provide minimum essential health benefits to full-time employees.
In other news, the United States Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court ruled that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional. DOMA, which was enacted in 1996, restricted the definitions of the terms “marriage” and “spouse” for purposes of any federal law to include only opposite-sex marriages. Same-sex couples lawfully married in their state can now receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, such as possible tax advantages by filing jointly, benefits for veterans’ spouses, and inheritance-tax exemptions.
We know that there are many changes taking place. My goal is to ensure that Rensselaer employees receive information and understand the impact of these and other labor and employment laws. Please keep an eye out for future articles in Inside Rensselaer that will elaborate on the Defense of Marriage Act, the Healthcare Affordable Act, Title IX, and other communications regarding Rensselaer’s Medical and Prescription Programs, Healthy Campus Initiatives, Paid Time Off, Environmental and Safety Programs, Professional Development, and Employee and Retiree Recognition Programs.
Welcome back, and we look forward to starting off this exciting academic year!
Curtis Powell, SPHR
Vice President for Human Resources